​This past weekend we were in Augusta, GA to do a Trauma Release Weekend with 143 Ministries. They have a Friday evening worship gathering called The River that will set your hair on fire. 
Walking in on Friday, we weren’t totally sure what we were going to do, or how we were going to do it. This wasn’t our average audience. This was a collection of former addicts and recovering addicts. Believers and non-believers. Participants and volunteers. Each of them in a different stage of the freedom process. 
What quickly impressed us was how the leadership has created an incredible family atmosphere that most of churches would be envious of. We watched as broken people willingly and loving and cared for all other broken people. The message was clear, there is a place to belong. It is a place where you will not be judged and yet, you will be challenged to a higher standard. When you get weary in the fight for sobriety and freedom you will find people holding you up.
I cannot tell you how encouraging my visit to 143 Ministries was to Pat and me.  It was the Kingdom in action. Yes, 143 Ministries have rules and expectations. We all do, and we all need that. What we did not find is the burden of religion. They were not rules based out of religion, but out of freedom. They were not expectations based out of religion, but out of grace. This is only possible because they have chosen to love despite fallibilities, weakness and struggles. As a community they have experienced the difficulties of the road and know the consequences of not making it can be deadly. 
All of us live with self-imposed rules and regulations. We create expectations not only for ourselves, but also for others that are based in them. We unfairly punish those who don’t meet our expectations by keeping them at a distance.  We expect people to burn us with their true colors. Whether we say it or not, we treat them as the great unwashed, or the socially unacceptable and we are content with casual disdain and refusal to associate with them. 
This weekend I asked one of the volunteer leaders how they created such an amazing family atmosphere. She explained, “There are those all around us whose very lives hang in the balance. We care for all those in that danger.” Her response challenged me, and in return, I want to challenge you. All around us there are people whose very lives hang in the balance, do we care enough to do something about it? Often it’s simply exercising the choice to see brokenness that bring compassion, without the automatic assumption that you are responsible to fix it.
If you have year–end giving goals, would you consider a gift to www.143ministries.org or to us at houseofhealingministries.org. It’s good soil.